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Tagged with " adventure"

Father’s Day: A Hike Down Memory Lane

Jun 19, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

Father's Day CollageOne of my fondest memories as a tween/young teen was not actually a singular moment, but rather a collective recollection of trips taken with my dad and brother to the Willie Browne trail, part of a trail system in the Theodore Roosevelt area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.  (If you recall at all from recent posts, Chris and I rediscovered the Willie Browne trail back in February after several weekend trips to the Fort Caroline area, relying on my childhood memories of the journey, to find the entrance to that specific area of the park.)

Recently in a conversation with my dad about our explorations, he mentioned how cool it would be to go back and see how everything changed in the years since he’s been on the trails. Thus my idea for the perfect Father’s Day adventure was born.

Sunday morning dawned bright and perfect, and it was with a giddy enthusiasm that Chris and I packed up our hiking supplies – namely bug spray and heaps of water – and headed out to meet my parents at Tombo’s for breakfast. I think I was probably borderline irritating at breakfast, because I couldn’t stop fidgeting due to my excitement about the day’s planned activities. After what felt like hours (but was really just one), we wrapped up our meal and headed to my car to begin part one of the day’s adventures.

The drive over to the Willie Browne trail isn’t a long one, but it felt like forever. When we finally turned onto the supposedly two-lane dirt road, I think everyone was ready to get out of the car and stretch their legs. At this point, I think it’s important to note that when it comes to the great outdoors (especially hiking), I am definitely my father’s daughter. He and I matched each other stride for stride as we set out from the beginning of the trail head, all the while making frequent (and often sudden) stops to point out various wildlife – mostly skinks and anoles – and to reminisce about our favorite discoveries down offshoots from the main trail.

I think one of my favorite things about this particular area of Jacksonville is that the wildlife and various ecosystems transition abruptly – one minute you’ll be walking through a longleaf pine sandhill, then a few steps will take you into the salt marshes, and then by climbing up several shell mounds, you’ll find yourself in a scrub forest with sandy soil littered with deer moss.

Fallen Cedar Tree

One of the neat things we observed on this particular trip was a fallen cedar tree about 30 yards off the main trail. A short trek to the base of the fallen tree afforded us a peek inside its split trunk, which was full of cedar trunks (great fire starter if we’d been looking to camp out).

Salt Marshes

This is the view you’re rewarded with if you make it out to the Willie Browne observation deck. It’s a view that really makes me appreciate the wonders of home, and no matter how many times I’m out there, it never gets old.

Oyster Bar

I always forget to check the tide when we head to the trails, but going at low tide is usually interesting because walking out to the flats allows you to observe the hustle and bustle of the local crabs while listening to the smack and pop of the oysters.

Sea Oxeye

The sea oxeyes were in full bloom this trip, which meant that the whole area around the observation deck was drenched in color (and butterflies). Over the course of our two and half hour adventure, we saw a myriad of yellow barred and orange barred sulphurs, one or two palamedes swallowtails and dozens of zebra longwings. (As an aside, I have the Jacksonville Zoo to thank for my butterfly classification abilities.)

About two-thirds of the way through our hike, we decided to take part of the loop toward Spanish Pond and discovered the area where UNF students are digging in search of the original Fort Caroline. There were several roped off areas and a whole series of squared off holes, stakes and tarps where there work was in progress. I’ll admit the sight triggered thoughts of Indiana Jones, and made me wish all over again that I’d taken more classes in archaeology when I was at FSU. (And speaking of FSU, along our hike, we ran into three separate groups of hikers that consisted of FSU graduates and their folks taking in the sights of Fort Caroline – it almost felt like a mini-reunion.)

After spending several hours in the heat, and walking all over the trail system, we decided to turn back toward the car so we could rehydrate. To bring our trip down memory lane full circle, we ended up at the Bono’s on Merrill Road – our go-to refueling station after soccer games, soccer practice and hiking back when we lived in Arlington. All-in-all I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the man who encouraged my insatiable desire to explore all the beauty this world has to offer…my dad.

Dad & Daughter

Pupdate: Hiking the Willie Browne Trail

Feb 10, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

Chris and I decided to enjoy the wonderful weather this afternoon by taking the puppies on a hike. We normally trek out to the beach or hit a regional park, but today’s we decided to head out toward Fort Caroline to find an old favorite of mine that I used to hike during my childhood – the Willie Browne trail.

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It took a little bit of patience, as the Fort Caroline area looks a little different after fifteen years – but we eventually found the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and from there, finding the Willie Browne trail head was easy. Once Jackie and Aries realized we weren’t going to the vet, it’s was pretty difficult to contain their excitement as we unloaded them from the car.

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The views we had on the trail today didn’t disappoint – the sun was shining, the wind was gentle and the pups were appreciative of the chance to romp and stretch their legs.

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Aries couldn’t decide what excited her most about the trail – the smells, the people or all the creatures that kept out of sight, but made soft rustlings through the underbrush.

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When we hit a break in the tree line, Jackie ran out with me onto the salt marshes, not realizing in her exuberance that low tide meant that the “ground” was really soft mud. She was halfway across one of the flats, when she sunk in deeper than she wanted to and made a mad scramble to get back to packed earth. It was ridiculously awkward and adorable.

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One of the coolest parts of the Willie Browne trail (in addition to the diversity of the landscape and the historic foundations of Willie Browne’s cabin and his family cemetery) is the observation deck the looks out over the salt marshes. It ended up being a great place to take a break, grab some water and just take in the natural beauty that north Florida has to offer.

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All said and done, we wandered about 2.5 miles (or roughly an hour) through the trails – and the puppies were pooped by the time we made it back to the car. Chris and I are planning another trip soon, just the two of us, so we can make it through the connecting trail that crosses over the Spanish Pond and Fort Caroline. Definitely couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Have any hiking spots in North Florida you’d recommend us checking out for our next outdoor adventure? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Food, Friends & Fushigi Yugi

Jan 24, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life
Chris and I spent a pretty relaxing weekend in St. Augustine for once, with just one event that brought us up to Jacksonville. I’d like to say that I was productive in doing some stuff around the house something, but I spent a good portion of the weekend camped out on the couch with Chris and the fur kids enjoying a Fushigi Yugi marathon instead.
The series was one of my first forays into manga back in high school and I’m still really fond of the series (both manga and anime). Yu Watase is a skilled artist/storyteller and I can’t help but relate to the characters in each of her series.
Last night was the final Bon Voyage Bash for Lara and Jason and everyone had a fabulous time. Between repurposing the décor from our office party, sumo suits brought in by Lara & Jason and a great mix of people from all over Jacksonville, I definitely feel like they’re ready to begin this next adventure, knowing they have the love and support of their friends and family. (Apparently they’re also taking wagers on who’s going to show up to visit them in New Zealand.) Let’s see if I can twist Chris’s arm in the months ahead. ^_~